New City Fire Death Brings Back Memories Of Dark Days For Rockland County

Fire safety efforts are credited for saving lives, along with improvements in the local volunteer fire service.

The death of 75-year-old  in a fire at her 7 Central Avenue home Friday night was the first structure fire death in Rockland County in 2012, and it was the first death in a structure fire in the county since 2009.

For emergency services workers and volunteers who rushed to the intense fire at about 10:30 p.m., the death left them visibly shaken — and disappointed that they were not able to rescue her from the two-story home a block off Little Tor Road.

Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services Director Gordon Wren Jr. said Rockland's record of safety is a testament to the work of first responders in the county, including the members of the 26 all-volunteer fire departments that protect Rockland.

At the scene of Friday's fire, Wren recalled that in the 1970s Rockland County was plagued by deaths in structure fires that hit double digits, such as 18 killed in 1972 and 13 killed in 1978. Although Rockland's population is much larger today, Wren said many factors have gone into saving lives, including ...

- Extensive training and cooperation among the volunteer fire departments.

- Improvements in firefighting equipment.

- Fire safety campaigns run locally and countywide.

- And, a major push that began in 1987 to have homeowners and apartment owners install smoke detectors.

Wren said that many Rockland residents have escaped death because smoke detectors alerted them to a fire and they could evacuate their homes or apartments. Investigators on Friday were trying to determine whether the 7 Central Ave. house in New City had working smoke detectors.

Here is an overview of fatal fires in Rockland County dating back to 1981:











Aug. 24, 1981


9: 10 a.m.


34B Route 303 Valley Cottage


Kathryn Stalter


72 (electrical)


June 29, 1982


11:15 a.m.


20 Spruce St. Orangeburg


Jean Slafta




Dec. 13, 1983


4:15 a.m.


492 N. Greenbush Rd. Blauvelt


Aurion Prictor


72 (undetermined)


Sept. 11,1984


4:50 a.m.


329 Westside Ave., Haverstraw


Edward Bailey




March 27, 1985


2:15 p.m.


Thiells-Mt. Ivy Road Thiells


Rita T. lessi




July 13, 1986


6:23 a.m.


Thorpe Village Sparkill


Alexander Nizik


78 (smoking)


Sept. 29, 1986




78 S. Broadway Nyack


Nai W. Chin


57 (smoking)


Feb. 23, 1987


9:36 p.m.


4 Hillside Dr. New City


Lillian Van Houten


58 (smoking)


Feb. 9, 1988




75 W. Church St. Spring Valley


Sara St. Vil, Sandra St. Vil, Maurine St. Vil


8, 13, 72


Nov. 10, 1988


4:55 a.m.


91 S. Airmont Road, Tallman


James F. Balvo, William Kobbe


31 (kitchen)


Jan. 17, 1989




109 College Ave. Nanuet


Felix Zallonis


77 (electrical)


Feb. 19, 1989


12:46 a.m.


Tallman Towers S. Broadway Nyack


Helen Perretta, Janice Russell


78, 65


April 14, 1990




Normandy Village Nanuet


Arthur Hardman


77 (smoking)


June 16, 1990




146 N. Western Highway Blauvelt


Robert Shepard




July 9, 1990


7:26 a.m.


185OldTappan Rd. Tappan


Mary Mochnaki


7 (accidental, matches)


Feb. 12, 1991


9:30 a.m.


103 Blauvelt Ave. West Haverstraw


Jonathan Meighen


18 months


Sept. 23, 1993 fire

(Died Sept. 28, 1993)


Night after midnight


In a tent in Congers


Lainda Harty (homeless)


45 (gas grill explosion)


Feb. 8, 1994 fire died Feb. 22


Late morning




Kevin Beauchard


9 months (candle)


March 1, 1994


11:30 a.m.


8 Wood St. Spring Valley


Ermicle Faroul Chris Mirville


62 and 3 years old



April 19, 1995


12:31 p.m.


3 Prospect St. Spring Valley


Tanya Price


24 (arson)


Dec. 27,1995


12:53 p.m.


16ForestGlenRd., VC


Allysia Hoehmann


15 mos. (electrical)



Mar. 29, 1996


11:45 a.m.


Mobil Gas Stat. 9W, Nyack


Paula Miller


54 (gasoline  accident)



Sept. 16, 1996


2:57 a.m.


7 First St., Congers


Fionnuala Roche & James Monagahan


27, 26 (smoking)



Oct. 26, 1996


4:49 a.m.


600 Route 303 Blauvelt


Al Defumere Jr. & Matthew Defumere


49, 6 (electrical)



Dec. 5, 1996


4:28 a.m.


278 Piermont Ave., Piermont


Quiley Bullock


79 (electrical)



Dec. 27, 1998, died Dec. 29


8:53 a.m.


6  Lane St., Monsey


Shifra Shain


5 (candles)



Mar. 9, 1999


12:40 a.m.


34A Closter Rd., Palisades


James Wadleigh


63 (smoking)



June 22, 1999


11:44 a.m.


18 White St., Spring Valley


Joseph Augustin


81 (electrical)



Dec. 12, 2001


9:56 p.m.


3 Manor Drive Monsey


Marvin Goldrich


62 (gas leak)



Aug. 15, 2002


12:07 p.m.


213OrangeTpke, Sloatsburg


Mary Rozum Byrnes


89 (candles)



Fire June 9, 2003 (Death June 30, 2003)


8:25 p.m.


Monsey Park Home for Adults, 15 Monsey Blvd.


Joseph Marekja


75 (smoking)



March 6, 2004


1 :49 a.m.


2 Hoffman St. Spring Valley


Unidentified vagrant


Smoking and drinking



March 7, 2004


9:25 a.m.


169 S.Reld Drive Pearl River


Theresa K. Oettlein


82 (under investigation)



April 14, 2004


1:38 p.m.


32 Broad St.

Havers traw


Marie Lastennet


89 (under investigation, probably accidental)



July 31, 2004

9 p.m.

Route 303 & PIP overpass


James Ables

Paul Houston


19 (car accident/fire)


Oct. 31, 2004

1:30 a.m.

Blueberry Hill Apts.

Kearsing Parkway

Spring Valley

Edna Thomas

42 (suspicious, but undetermined)






Feb. 27, 2005

12:30 a.m.

12 Lincoln St.

Spring Valley

vacant house

Juan Mata, 40, and Manuel Esteban-Mendez, 44

second-degree arson and second-degree manslaughter


Dec. 14, 2005

Died Dec. 30 at WMC

12:11 p.m.

77 Buchanan St.

Pearl River

Jeanette Younger

87 (small electrical appliance)


Jan. 27, 2006

3 a.m.

Route 59 and Western Highway, West Nyack

Alfonse Sedotto

23 (car accident/fire)


March 3, 2006, died March 4 at WMC

7:45 p.m.

129 Fred Hecht Drive

Spring Valley

Billy James Walker

55 (using stove for heat/clothing caught fire)


April 25, 2006

Died April 30 at WMC

1:50 a.m.

83 Arlene Court

Pearl River

Thomas P. Houlihan

50 (undetermined)


Dec. 10, 2006

Died Dec. 11 at WMC

9:55 p.m.

Evergreen Senior Living, Lafayette Ave., Spring Valley

Bassie McSherry

72 (smoking set her night clothes and bedding on fire)


Jan. 15, 2007

11:08 a.m.

86 Lois Drive, Pearl River

Daniel Feck

64 (probably smoking)


Jan. 29, 2007

Died Feb. 9, 2009

11:15 p.m.

17 Skyline Terr. (Loeb House)

Wesley Hills

Richard Masone

54 (smoking)


April 8, 2007

Victim found in woods 3 days after crash

125 Sister Servant Lane, Sloatsburg

Francis McCloskey

79, fire caused by car accident


Sept. 29, 2007

3:45 p.m.

122 Parkway Trailer Park, Pomona

Jackson Holland

74 (fell asleep in chair outside, smoking)


April 26, 2009

6:40 p.m.

9 Fletcher Road, Spring Valley

Henry K. Lewandowski,

67 (smoking)


April 20, 2012

10:30 p.m.

7 Central Ave., New City

Eleanor Luciano

75 (under investigation)








Compiled by Deputy Fire Coordinator John Kryger, Rockland County Office of Fire & Emergency Services

Kenny Flynn April 23, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Kevin was killed when he fell under the wheels of a fire truck as it pulled out of the firehouse to respond to an alarm. In addition to the park, Kevin is remembered annually by the fire department through the presentation of a memorial scholarship to a worthy student at Clarkstown North High School. Every year after the New City Memorial Day Parade, the department, along with Membera of Kevin's family, make the scholarship presentation to the student in Landau Park.
stephany April 23, 2012 at 12:14 PM
"perhaps someone from New City FD could clarify the details" Maybe as confirmation but I would actually prefer a link to an article in a paper written at or as close to the time it happened.It might be a good stating point if we knew where William Demarest got his info about the car accident. He must have verified it. Btw What was the accident. What happened?
Fil April 23, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Kevin's death is unrelated to this article. This was about victims who perished since 1981. Kevins death was an accident, so please let it be. Chief Flynn gave you the info of his death, this should more than enough. If you indeed need to scratch more into this, remember the days where you go into a place called a library and pull up newspaper archives? All you will find though is what the Chief had just said.
Fil April 23, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Also Stephany, if you read what Mr. Demarest wrote he said accident, not car accident. Kenny had verified that by saying he fell under the wheels of the ftruck, that was responding to a fire. Making it........ An accident......
William Demarest April 23, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Clarkstown police said today they are still investigating the cause of Friday's fatal fire on Central Avenue in New City.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »